'This is just the beginning': Squatters occupy London mansion ‘owned by Russian ...

As anger intensifies over Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, protestors have taken over a sanctioned oligarch’s mansion to support the Ukrainian people.

Oleg Deripaska was one of seven Russian businessmen hit with punitive measures by the UK Government last week, in a bid to “ramp up the pressure” on Putin following his country’s invasion of Ukraine last month.

The sanctions saw his assets frozen, a travel ban enforced against him, and a ban put in place against any UK citizen or company doing business with him.

In a statement reported to be from the squatters who took over Mr Deripaska’s house in central London, the activists describe their action as “property liberation”.

They said: “By occupying this mansion, we want to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine, but also the people of Russia who never agreed to this madness. As always with wars, empires benefit and common people pay the price.

“We want to show our sympathy to the brave protestors who have been fighting in the belly of the beast, and suffer unjust imprisonment for standing up to Putin. We say with you: Putin, go f**k yourself.”

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They added the mansion in Belgrave Square will now “serve as a centre for refugee support for Ukrainians and people of all nations and ethnicities”.

As the incident continues to unfold, Twitter users have thrown their support behind the protestors:

According to The Guardian, the Metropolitan Police were called to the property just after 1am on Monday.

“Officers attended and found that a number of people had gained entry and hung banners from upstairs windows. Officers remain at the location,” a spokesperson said.

Footage has since emerged of riot police entering the property to evict the protestors, with people questioning whether the scale of the response is necessary.

“Where were these Met riot police officers when all those Downing Street lockdown parties were in full flow,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Another commented: “Surely questions about proportionality and consistency of response.”

“This seems an awful lot of police for a non-violent protest in an empty, with oligarch Oleg Deripaska banned from travelling to the UK anyway. Often when investigating crimes like burglary, maybe one officer will turn up at a victim's house, and then it will never be followed up,” a third said.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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